One major challenge with home-ownership in general and with investment properties in particular is recurring and expensive repairs caused by water damage. The cause of water damage could be anything from a leaky roof or clogged gutters to plumbing leaks, water heater failure, condensation line backups, exterior window or clogged interior or exterior drains.
You may already have put in braided washer hoses, put drain-pans under HVAC and water heaters and may have various water alarms that beep and stop the HVAC if water is detected on the floor or the condensation drain is clogged. However, those devices won’t alert you if the power is out, nobody is home or catch other issues in the home.
With Red Umbrella Management we run into issues with water damage all the time. While there is no way to catch all issues. I have been looking for a device that will notify us of potential issues. There are quite a few products out there but most of them required WiFi. This would work well for a homeowner residing in the home, but it would work only when power was connected and would require access to the tenants WiFi. Also, it wouldn’t work for vacant homes.
After some searching I found PumpAlarm.com. With the PumpAlarm system you can connect multiple sensors to the main plug-in unit. Various sensors exist like sewage floats, dual floats, digital floats or just a regular water sensor. These sensors have up to 15ft leads so you can run sensors pretty far from the main unit itself.
For example, I can see putting one sensor in the sump pump (in case it fails), one in the exterior stairwell (that has a drain that clogs with leaves and floods into the basement) and one on the floor in the utility room (in case the water heater, HVAC or washer leaks.)
The device has battery backup – so it will work and alert me via SMS when power is off. The unit will also warn me if the temperature goes above or below a certain threshold (great if a tenant stops paying the electric/gas bill or leaves for vacation and forgets to put on the heater in the middle of the winter .)
The cost for the main unit is about $219. It uses cellular 4G LTE service so you will need a subscription of $49.99/year.
After having used PumpAlarm for a client for a while we don’t have amny regrets. It did go of once due to the dryer hose becoming disconnected – the humidity from the dryer made the sensor go off. More of a fluke then a feature as the sensor was right there though. It still seems like a great investment for a whole lot of peace of mind. Of course, no system is perfect and will work in every situation. This product seems like a great extra tool to help protect our clients investment where there is a history of water intrusion or flooding.